Author Shereen El Feki Explores Private Sex Lives of the Arab World in New Book
Author Shereen El Feki has based her new novel "Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World" on the sex lives of people living in the Arab region.
To conduct research for her new book "Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World", author Shereen El Feki spent five years travelling around the Arab world asking people about their personal sex lives. The information she gathered included what they think about sex and what they don't think, along with what they do and what they don't.
"I know of young women who have been returned to their families by their husbands because, as you say, they did not bleed on defloweration," Shereen El Feki tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Feki's main motive behind this research was to find out about the lives of young single people, married couples, gay people and sex workers, and how the sexual aspects of their lives reflect larger religious, cultural and political shifts. She soon found out that "the patriarchy is alive and well in Egypt and the wider Arab world," and that women, too, "are some of the staunchest upholders of patriarchal attitudes."
For example, women are in total control when making a decision on whether to circumcise their daughters and granddaughter or not. Men do not have a say in this matter.
"They are making these decisions based on faulty information, but the fact is, they have agency; and the key to moving forward is to recognize that power and to shift it to a decision which is recognizing and respecting their child's physical and mental rights," reveals the author.
Feki grew up in Canada, the daughter of an Egyptian father and Welsh mother, who converted to Islam, the religion she was raised in. Feki moved to Cairo in 2008, and now divides her time between the city and London.